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Message from the High Commissioner of Canada on the occasion of Canada Day

Colombo, Sri Lanka

July 1, 2022

Happy Canada Day! Today, Canadians celebrate together our country’s achievements and hopefully have some fun doing it. We also reflect on the challenges that we face as we look to build a better Canada.

Canada Day is typically celebrated informally, with a focus on family, friends, and community. This reflects Canadians’ inclusive sense of nationalism, enabling our diverse citizenry to integrate the various layers of their personal identities into an overarching sense of what it is to be Canadian, under the maple leaf.

While the acute phase of the pandemic is, thankfully, behind us, the world faces different and complex challenges that once again require us to work together in our response. Major crises with global consequences have emerged around the world, most notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In Sri Lanka, the economic crisis has been exacerbated by these external shocks, and it is wrenching to see the adversity ordinary Sri Lankans endure every day as a result. As we did during the pandemic and for nearly 70 years before that, Canadians have extended their support to Sri Lanka in these difficult times. In collaboration with the World Health Organization, we are funding the procurement of essential medicines and supplies. Canada is also working with the World Food Program to purchase urgently needed rice stocks for the National School Meal Program. As the crisis deepens, we are looking how we can best respond to the recent flash appeals by the UN and the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies. 

I admire the desire of so many Sri Lankans to turn these challenging times into an opportunity to build a more stable, prosperous and inclusive society that can harness the enormous potential of this remarkable country and its talented people. Though under different circumstances, in Canada we, too, are striving to build a better future for all by advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including by recognizing and ending a legacy of injustice. We want to make sure the descendants of the first inhabitants of our beautiful land are acknowledged and celebrated fully in Canadian society even as we continue to welcome hundreds of thousands immigrants each year from around the world. Consistent with this, Canada supports the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, as well as the empowerment of women and marginalized communities, whose success is integral to that of the country. This builds on our extensive people-to-people links and longstanding economic ties.

Amidst the many challenges the world is facing, we cannot forget the most profound of all – the climate crisis. Both Sri Lanka and Maldives are experiencing the impacts of climate change; Maldives even more so due to its geography.  Climate and environmental action remain a priority for Canada and we continue to contribute to the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund, which benefit both Sri Lanka and Maldives. In recent years, we have also increased our support for local environmental initiatives. In Maldives, we will be expanding our assistance further this year through the deployment of Canadian experts to support the Maldivian government’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and preserve the environment.

I would be remiss if I did not end with a note about the many Canadians of Sri Lankan and Maldivian heritage who continue to shape and improve Canada. They exemplify why Canada Day is a day on which we celebrate diversity, solidarity and hope for an ever more inclusive future.

Happy Canada Day!

David McKinnon

High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka and the Maldives

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